There’s More To Life Than Braai, Bru – South African Tourism Event


I think, perhaps, the South African accent is my favourite in the world. The very hint of it makes me swoon, butterflies flying into a tizzy in my stomach, my brain fuzzy with ardour. It makes me stutter and stumble over the smallest of words, blushing all the while like a schoolgirl in the flush of first love. Yes, I think I am in fact in love with an accent. But to be in love with an accent is silly… if, after all, you haven’t even visited the country of origin or the cuisine. Thankfully I can now cross the latter off my list and begin to claim that I am not in love with the accent alone but perhaps just South Africa in general…? Yes, maybe that’s it.

The lovely folks over at Publicasity and South African Tourism invited myself and a handful of other bloggers to their dinner event, being held at the Bbar in Central London. We were promised an evening of fun, learning about South African food and, even better, getting to cook it ourselves. What a privilege! Of course I said yes – it was far too good an opportunity to pass up… especially at the thought of Safa accents surrounding me. Be still my beating heart.


Don’t Be Dim: Dim Sum at Ping Pong


Photo courtesy of Digital Tribe.

When I was a kid I hated dim sum. My parents used to force us to go every Sunday to a Chinese restaurant that was on the top floor of the Whiteley’s shopping centre in Bayswater and the dim sum was always terrible. We would order the same things – char siu bao (steamed buns filled with roast pork), har gow (prawn dumplings), cheung fun (a rice noodle roll, usually filled with different meats), pai gwat fan (spareribs rice; we called this ‘pee goo fan’ which means ‘asshole rice’ – I know, we’re a terrible witty family) – and we’d be horrendously disappointed by them but for some reason every Sunday, without fail, we were back again. I loathed Sundays, hated having to trudge all the way out to Bayswater just to eat sub-par food (usually wearing my Sunday best) and dim sum became like a swear word in my vocabulary.

That is until I was a little older and in Hong Kong with Momma Lee. For some reason we’d travelled out there by ourselves and spent our first few days wandering around her old haunts, eating Shanghainese food and dim sum. It was like I’d never eaten food before: I simply couldn’t get enough of it. I was hungry for Shaghainese xiao long bao (soup-filled dumplings), drank gallons of guk fa cha (Chrysanthemum tea) and ate blocks and blocks of lo bak go (fried turnip cake). When I returned to London all I wanted was dim sum, and though our usual haunt had long since been closed down (thank goodness) just up the road was a fantastic restaurant whose dim sum was authentic and delicious. This was several years ago and I still rarely go anywhere else for dim sum.

So when Ping Pong invited me to a blogger dinner at their Appold Street venue I was, understandably, a little dubious. I have grown up with dim sum, have had bad dim sum and excellent dim sum, have been to Hong Kong almost every year since I was born; this is not new to me, and the idea of modern dim sum, as Ping Pong claims to be, is one I find very hard to get behind. But I’m always open to having my mind changed and I had heard about Ping Pong for a long while, so off I trotted for dinner.


Glitter Absolves All Sins – Tesco Real Food Christmas Cupcake Decorating Competition Winners


One of the Judge’s finished cupcakes.

There are, largely, two branches of thought surrounding cupcakes. There is the ‘yay cupcakes! Tiny bites of yum!’ branch of thought and the ‘eh, I’m over it’ branch of thought. There’s even a food rumour going round that ‘pies will be the new cupcakes’, and if pies in a jar start popping up commercially then I may very well well jump on board the pie train (mhm, pie train…). However, until that time, I am rather firmly in the ‘yay cupcakes’ camp, and proud to be so.

When the Tesco Real Food team asked me to be one of their ten London bloggers to judge their nationwide cupcake decorating competition of course I said yes. Cupcakes were made and decorated, I judged with my judging eyes (oh little judging eyes, how thee judge so) and on Friday 10th December we Judges, along with the two winners of the competition, were invited to attend the Winners’ Day at The Make Lounge with professional cake decorating chef, Mich Turner of The Little Venice Cake Company to decorate cupcakes. Huzzah!


Have You Got What It Takes? Tesco Real Food Christmas Cupcake Competition


The other day I came home to find a big box waiting for me. There is literally nothing more exciting than coming home to a parcel, especially when you’ve been eagerly anticipating its contents for a few days/weeks/months, and the anticipation was killing me. I took my big box upstairs and tore it open, to find that inside was an equally large red box, tied with a big silver bow (squeee!), and a little card from the Tesco Real Food team.

You see, in the spirit of Christmas, Tesco decided to hold a nationwide cupcake decorating competition, the prize for which is two lucky winners getting to cook alongside a celebrity chef for an afternoon, and ten runners-up receiving a very special Tesco Cupcake Kit. Pretty good, right? So what’s my involvement in all of this? Well, Tesco asked me to be one of their ten London food bloggers to help judge this competition, create my own cupcake and attend the chef day along with the winners. Cupcakes? Christmas? Cooking with a professional chef in a professional kitchen?! How could I refuse?


The Times, They Are A Changin’ – PizzaExpress Living Lab Launch Night


Photo courtesy of Unity PR, on behalf of PizzaExpress.

I love independent. I really like to support local, to find individual shops, eateries and places of interest, and I like to give them my business. I’m not doing this because I want to be poncy; I’m doing it because I am, essentially, a creature of habit. Once I’ve found somewhere I like I’ll shout about it from the rooftops, tell everybody I know, and bring copious amounts of people there. Just ask the Mooli’s boys – they can’t get rid of me!

So when I received an email a few weeks ago from one of the PR team at Unity for PizzaExpress I nearly trashed it immediately. PizzaExpress is not just pizza (which we already know I have an aversion to) but it’s the very name: Express. Express meaning fast. Meaning chain. Meaning I’m-not-going-there-voluntarily. Narrow-minded? Sure. But like I said: creature of habit.


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